Monday, February 4, 2008

Falls consciousness

Patrick McIlheran's column Odd way to treat a customer about Milwaukee's holding up renewing its contract to sell water to the suburb of Menomonee Falls drew a response. In his post Thirst, you bigots, he reprints an email from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee sociology professor Professor William Washabaugh.
...Studies of such submerged forces are numerous and helpful (see works by Pierre Bourdieu). They provide the ground for supposing that much suburban “dissatisfaction” has been shaped by longstanding social practices and institutional constraints, and especially by racism (see Paul Gilroy) and classism (see Walter Benn Michaels). ...

The way I see it, racism and classism lurk behind and beneath the issue of selling water. And so, [Milwaukee Alderman] Michael Murphy’s questions about this sale challenge us all to dig deeper into the roots of suburban residential preferences.

All from "grounds for supposing"; he gives no reason to suppose academia is immune from "submerged forces", "longstanding social practices", or "institutional constraints".

More at Marquette Warrior.

Which brings me to news that Catholic Charities USA Policy Paper on Race and Poverty Authored by Milwaukee Priest. The priest is Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, and the paper is Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good. What does Father Massingale mean by racism?
Racism describes the reality of unearned advantage, conferred dominance, and invisible privilege enjoyed by white Americans, to the detriment, burden, and disadvantage of people of color. This network of racially conferred advantages and benefits has been termed “white privilege.” (page 7)

...Regardless of an individual’s desires, an “invisible package of unearned assets” is enjoyed by white people because of the racial consciousness which is subtly pervasive in our social customs and institutions. (page 8)

So when Catholic Charities asks some of us to "donate" or "give", it really means cough up part of the ill-gotten gains resulting from an “invisible package of unearned assets”. It's consistent with their being close-mouthed about where some of the money might be going.

P.S. And when Father G. Simon Harak bewails that
the government keeps increasing the taxes on the poor and middle class

I'm skeptical he's advocating a middle-class tax cut.

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